It happens to all of us. If you’re in business long enough, you’ll experience a big screw up. I’ve had my share of them despite putting into place stellar (ha!) organizational processes to mitigate. Human error – It bites you in the butt every time.
How can we navigate out of these bumps, preserve our business relationship, and maybe even enhance it?
It begins with swallowing that bitter pill called Humility and eating that Humble Pie.
I’d been asked to be a guest speaker for a class attended by small business owners. The topic was Customer Experience. Can you even imagine how geeked out and excited I was? My goal was to really inspire these business owners, teach them some tools to catapult their businesses, and give an extraordinary amount of value.
I’d been working on the presentation and support materials, excitedly anticipating the class, even hired a gal to create some custom graphics for the class (don’t get too excited, they’re pretty simple – just not my forte).
Tuesday, a beautiful sunny day, I’m in my office, finishing up, putting the final touches on the materials for the group. If I look out my back window I can see the college where I’d be guest teaching. Excited!
Mid-morning I take a break and pop over the Facebook. I see a message from one of the business owners who is taking the class. She’s asking if I’m coming to class today.
I almost threw up.
I screwed the pooch. Oh, how I wanted to say I’d been in a car wreck! I contemplated saying it (for a fleeting moment). It was HORRIBLE. I had the wrong date. Human error.
Literally running (well, jogging, because my car was in the shop) over to the college I was thinking how I was going to fix it.
These Business Owners:
- Scheduled time away from work
- Anticipated the topic (I even gave them a survey the past month)
- Paid employees while they were away
- Paid for the class
I needed to fix this. And come on, can you see the irony of me missing the class on Customer Experience? It’s not like the class was bookkeeping; it was on Customer Experience. Geez.
What to do when this happens to you? It will.
Follow these steps to help you repair the error.
I did it. Not fun.
- Rip that band aid off.
Get right to it. Call or talk to them right away while you’re still fresh. If you wait, it will be harder to make the call.
- Admit guilt. Admit the truth.
(While I wanted to say I was in the hospital or give some excuse that would be more “worthy” of missing the class, it was simply not truthful.)
- Acknowledge their Inconvenience
(All the bullet points above.) This helps them know that I understood their situation and how they were inconvenienced.
- Apologize. Just apologize.
- Work to reschedule at their convenience.
If I needed to give the presentation individually five times, then that’s what I would do. Not an efficient use of my time but at this point it’s not about me, it’s about being uber convenient for them.
- Give MORE value that’s unexpected.
I need to do something more than teach the materials. I’m going to buy them all lunch, at a minimum. This is an important and necessary part of repairing that relationship long term.
Honestly, the beginning of the conversations felt a bit prickly. By the time I stumbled through #4 they extended so much grace to me and actually were excited to reschedule. One even thanked me for being so honest. I can’t wait to meet with them all face to face.
Unplanned, I now have another, accidental, talking point about Customer Experience to share with these business owners. How to fix your blunders.
Good thing my talk wasn’t about organization and time management. . .
Is this post helpful? I hope so! Let me know how you have fixed your past blunders.
Can’t wait to hear all about it!
Grow your business through creating excellent Customer Experiences.